posted by Lauren on February 9th, 2012

It’s that time again. The Super Bowl has come and gone; the victor has been crowned and the parade confetti swept away; and I’m ready to weigh in on the ads I thought were the most memorable of 2012′s big game.

This year, instead of just listing the best five ads in no particular order, I’m giving out ‘awards’. Would love to hear your thoughts – what do you agree on? What did I get wrong?

Most pre-game buzz:

Most relevant link to (potential) current events:

Most talked about during the game:

Most clever use of media:

Best ad:

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posted by Lauren on April 20th, 2011

Lately I’ve been thinking and talking a lot about branding. (I know, you’re shocked.)

Whether it’s a rebranding project at the agency, or a brand that I come in contact with during my daily life, I have a lot of trouble disconnecting and not thinking about how these brands are managed. I admire brands that are able to stay true to themselves in the real world. And sometimes, when I see a brand making a few missteps, I can’t help thinking about how it could be managed a little better.

One brand that is part of my everyday life, you’ll find it on my nightstand or in my bag, is Shape magazine. I’ve been a Shape reader for a few years now; and through the years they’ve done a lot right–including having a pretty nice visual presentation of their content. I mean, it’s no Dwell, but it’s readable, seems to fit with the content in the mag and feels true to who Shape’s been.

Last November, Shape’s longstanding editor-in-chief, Valerie Latona, left the magazine and Tara Kraft took her place. Ms. Kraft has a solid history in magazines; within a few months of her arrival, it was obvious that Shape was changing visually. Under Ms. Kraft’s leadership, Shape has changed their magazine-wide typefaces (one of which is now a rather dramatic serif font), incorporated different shapes and swipes on their cover, and even seems to have slightly changed their logo type treatment (look at that first S in Shape for clues to this change.)

Compare the November 2010 issues with the May 2011 issue:

November 2010                                         May 2011

Now, I know that any brand, including Shape, is made up of many different parts. While a visual representation of the brand is a vital component to ‘who’ the brand is, a brand is more than just its visuals. It’s a feeling. It’s a story. It’s something that makes you want to belong. It’s that thing that makes you want to pay more money for one product (or service) over another.

I’ve got to say – I don’t love the way that Ms. Kraft has been managing the visual aspects of Shape’s brand. Was there a need to give the magazine a bit of a face-lift? Maybe. Do I think that the face-lift it got is true to its brand? Not really. To me, it’s making the brand a little less current, maybe even talking to a slightly different demographic. Mostly, it just doesn’t FEEL like Shape anymore.

1) Brand Management:
It’s interesting how in magazines the editor-in-chief can play such a large role in the management of a brand. I mean, who doesn’t think of Anna Wintour when you hear Vogue? And do you remember the sense of anticipation when Tina Brown took over Newsweek. So I ask, is an editor-in-chief really just a brand manager?

2) Nerdy Typography:
Also, Tina Brown’s Newsweek seems to be using a slightly-similar-to-Shape serif typeface on its redesigned cover. Is this a new trend in magazine design?

Before                                                    After

3) And most importantly:
Should we even be talking about brand managers as people who are employed by the brand? Who tells a brand’s story? Is it someone who interacts with the brand through digital media in a blog post like this one?

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posted by Lauren on February 7th, 2011

The Super Bowl has come and gone, and instead of playing Monday Morning Quarterback, I’m playing Monday Morning Creative Director.

Some argue that the spots were the best ever, others say that many fell flat (Skechers with Kim Kardashian – what a mess!). I think a few memorable spots did a great job of delivering the message to the viewer in a funny or touching way.

Here’s my Top Five – not necessarily in order:

Bridgestone: “Reply All”

Coca-Cola: “Borders”

Hyundai: “Anachronistic City”

Bridgestone: “Carma”

VW: “The Force”

If YouTube views count, The Force wins by a landslide.

And Kudos to The Richards Group for two spots in my top five!

So, which was your favorite?

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posted by Lauren on January 12th, 2011

Over the last couple of months, I’ve seen this ad for the Nissan Juke quite a few times. Does it make me want to go out and buy a Juke? Not really. But there is one thing about the ad that I find striking.

When you think car commercial, what comes to mind? Driving on a winding mountain road. Fast, hard stops up to an orange cone. Hairpin turns. Crash test dummies. Pulling a heavy object over rocky terrain. One fancy car outshining other fancy cars in some type of safety survey. Maybe even, if it’s the holidays, a brand new car with a huge red bow in a driveway.

Regardless of the setting, the car is always the super hero. It’s the thing that’s drool-worthy. It’s the rockstar in the spot.

But that’s not the case in this spot by TWBA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles. To me, it’s clear that the star of this spot is the actor. The car is secondary. The car makes the man shine. (This is even more obvious in the :30 version of this spot, which I couldn’t find online.)

It’s a nice change of pace. Too many of the same, old car ads have made us focus only on the car, instead of on what the car can do for us. Isn’t advertising supposed to make us feel good about our purchase, or the purchase we’re considering making? Doesn’t showing the benefit of the car do a better job of making me feel good, then just showing the car doing the things it’s supposed to do?

Or, does the fact that this ad doesn’t make me want to go buy a Juke, mean it’s a failure?

What do you think?

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posted by Lauren on January 2nd, 2011

Wishing you all happiness, healthiness and prosperity in 2011.

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